North Macedonia, US officials reveal flag in Pentagon’s NATO corridor> US Department of Defense> Department of Defense news

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A stylized sun rose in the NATO hallway of the Pentagon as the flag of the Republic of North Macedonia joined that of 29 other NATO allies.

North Macedonia’s Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska and Laura K. Cooper, Deputy Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, unveiled the red and yellow flag, which represents a stylized sun in the corridor of NATO. The addition recognizes the accession of North Macedonia to NATO in March 2020.

Prior to the reveal, Shekerinska met with Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Colin Kahl, the DOD’s Under-Secretary of State for Politics.

North Macedonia came into being with the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991. In 1995 it joined NATO’s “Partnership for Peace” program, which eventually led to membership in the alliance.

Cooper said the COVID-19 epidemic canceled plans to unveil the flag in 2020, “but it couldn’t stop us. We finally have the chance to recognize this important milestone for North Macedonia, the United States and the NATO alliance. “

Cooper said joining the country made the alliance stronger. She praised North Macedonia’s commitment to defense and the political reforms that would have made this possible. She also praised the spirit of reconciliation between Greece and North Macedonia that eventually made accession possible. “The conclusion of the Prespa Agreement in 2018, which resolved the decades-long dispute with Greece and paved the way for North Macedonia to join NATO, required real political courage,” she said. “Now both countries and the region are better for it.”

North Macedonia has been a security exporter since 1995, Cooper said. More than 4,000 soldiers from North Macedonia fought alongside US and NATO allies in Afghanistan and Iraq. Troops from North Macedonia are also helping NATO in Kosovo and in peacekeeping efforts under the auspices of the United Nations.

Shekerinska pointed out the long road that North Macedonia had to travel to reach NATO. “We have moved mountains, and the great success of our entry into NATO was the result of a long three decades of struggle to change our country for the better,” she said.

In 1995, the military was nowhere near the capabilities required to join NATO. The nation reached out and the NATO allies responded. The United States has provided advice and assistance. And has partnered North Macedonia with the Vermont National Guard under the Guard Office’s state partnership program. “Therefore, the transformation from a former socialist model, a military that resembled the old days, into a new model of a NATO ally was feasible,” said the defense minister.

Shekerinska said the country has received help with cyber issues, equipment purchases, tactical assistance and more, but “I really believe that human contacts made real transformation,” she said.

The Secretary of Defense said the flag unveiling was emotional “to see the flag of North Macedonia along with 29 nations hang alongside the US flag as part of the largest military and political alliance. I believe this was the culmination of everything I and my team have worked on over the past 30 years. “


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